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7 Alternatives to Walking Down the Aisle

Published Friday, Feb. 12th, 2021

Consider one of these modern alternatives when planning your wedding procession.



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AMM Audio Articles · 7 Alternatives to Walking Down the Aisle at Your Wedding Ceremony




Walking down the aisle is a traditional start to the wedding ceremony, but these are modern times! Venues have changed, relationship dynamics have changed, and (thank goodness!) wedding expectations have changed. Now, couples can stick with tradition or choose something new when planning their processional.


Here are 7 ways modern couples are mixing things up:


1. Have Guests Come to You


Create a ‘backstage’ area behind a decorative curtain or screen, and wait comfortably while guests take their seats. Then, just as you would at a theater play or other live stage event, pull the curtain and let the ceremony begin! 

If you prefer a ceremony with less theatrics, sit or stand comfortably with your wedding party at the front of the room -- without a divider. Your officiant can greet guests at the door and ask them to be seated, before joining you at the front of the room to begin. 


Newlyweds stand at outdoor wedding altar surrounded by smiling family and friends of all ages and trees and a garden, the couple holds hands and look like they will kiss

2. Two Aisles or No Center Aisle


If you like the idea of a traditional walk down the aisle, but find yourself in a venue with two aisles or no center aisle, a modern approach will keep things moving. 


In venues with two aisles, many couples find that walking up one aisle (one at a time) during the processional, and down the second aisle (arm in arm) during the recessional, creates a sense of symmetry and symbolism. You can also synchronize your entrances, walking up both aisles at the same time to meet at the altar (but be warned, this approach might be harder to photograph and for guests to see).


Other couples find that simply choosing one aisle to use, and seating guests closest to this aisle only, creates a visual balance and flow to the event. This works well when there is no center aisle, too -- the trick here is to seat guests where they’ll have the best view of both the walk and the front of the room. 


3. Enter from the Side


If there’s a room or entrance off to the side of the ceremony space, you and your partner can enter either one at a time or together to arrive at the front. You’ll still be making a ‘grand entrance’, but the walk will be short and sweet. 



4. Group Walk


There’s a sense of comfort in a group! Couples could choose to stand at the back of the room with their officiant, greeting guests as they arrive, and then walk as a group to the front of the room when it’s time to start the ceremony. If there is a wedding party, some couples will walk altogether their wedding party to the front to begin. 


an overhead shot of a couple standing in an beautiful simple aisle on their wedding day, holding hands, with wooden benches on either side of them



5. Arm in Arm 


In the same spirit of a group walk, some couples might prefer to enter together and make the walk to the front arm in arm. This can symbolize a couple who view themselves as equals, partners walking into their new chapter together. And it takes the pressure off of nervous nearlyweds who don’t want to make the trek to the front of the room alone! 



6. Circle of Community and Love


A nontraditional approach to both the walk down the aisle and the ceremony’s seating is to have guests place themselves in a circle around the couple and their officiant. In this arrangement, the couple can stand comfortably within the circle as guests arrive, or simply step into the center of the circle when it’s time for things to begin. The circle cultivates a feeling of unity, community, and guest participation, instead of the usual separation of ‘audience’ and ‘participants.’ 


(A ceremony circle isn’t specific to any spiritual tradition, but it’s common in traditional handfastings. For inspiration, read this Modern Wiccan Handfasting sample script.)



7. DIY Aisle


If you and your partner want to walk down the aisle but have chosen a nontraditional venue, you might need to BYOA (bring your own aisle!). Modern venues like backyards, parks, community halls, and other unusual spaces don’t always come with a clear path to the front! 


This DIY approach calls for creativity, but you don’t need to be an artist or interior designer to pull it off. Create your own aisle using decorative ropes, ribbons, flower pots and planters, colorful stones or carvings, candles, chalk murals, or any other objects that compliment your theme. Some couples even ask their friends and loved ones to line up in a row, and walk between them to the front! 


We love the versatility of the modern wedding ceremony, and the chance to mix and match old traditions and new trends into something perfectly unique. 


Curious about the traditional processional?

 Want to know the ‘rules’ before you break them? A traditional, nondenominational opposite-sex wedding procession in a church often looks like this: 


The groom enters, followed by the best man, groomsmen, bridesmaids, maid of honor, flower girls or ring bearers, the bride’s escort, and finally, the bride. The bride is ‘given away’ by the patriarch of her family into the care of the groom, and the bride steps forward to the left of the officiant. The groom stands on the right, and the ceremony begins. 


Discover more about the wedding procession on our Officiant Training Pages: The Processional Explained.


Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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